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Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office defends delayed notification after stolen car found

Investigator on vacation, call backlog
arapahoe county sheriff's office.jpg
Posted at 10:08 PM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 09:07:32-04

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — No one likes paying for towing storage, but add insult to injury if it's to get back your stolen car.

"This is the invoice from the tow yard," said Charles Webb, shaking his head. "Fifteen days of storage quadrupled the cost of this bill to $805. Why would the victim have to pay this, especially if the sheriff's office never notified them?"

On June 27, Webb reported his car had been stolen from in front of his home to Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office.

"Honestly, the officer was respectful," Webb said.

On June 29, call records show he had a 3 a.m. missed call from a restricted number. He called the sheriff's office non-emergency number the next day, gave his case number and was told his car had not been recovered.

"I asked what protocol was, if I should keep calling," Webb said. "And she said, 'No, don't worry, our responsibility is if your car is found, we will contact you.' So, I left a message with the investigator and went about my business."

Webb said he left another message for the investigator after the July 4 holiday, but received no response.

The first clue his car had been found was a notification of certified letter from a tow company, which gave him good news and bad.

"I was so happy my car had been found, and then I learned it had been on the lot since June 29 after deputies found it," said Webb, who went to pick up his car on July 13. "So ,14 days after it's been recovered, 14 days that they didn't call us, didn't leave me a message, didn't send me an email, and we were upset."

Contact Denver7 went to get answers at the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office.

Ginger Delgado, a spokeswoman for Arapahoe County, defended the actions, releasing an incident report that states the deputy left a message for Webb at 3 a.m. the morning the car was found by deputies. Webb maintains there was no message or he would have known his car had been found.

Delgado also said that a deputy knocked on the victim's door shortly after the car was found and before it was towed. (The car was found in a library parking lot by a deputy doing patrols less than a half-mile from Webb's house.)

"Deputies went above and beyond. At that point, it is out of our hands, and in the hands of the tow company," Delgado said. "It's out of our control at that point."

Webb said that story does not pass muster for several reasons.

"Sheriff, if you come to a door at 4 in the morning, leave a note, leave your card, leave a message: 'Your car was found, call this number,'" said Webb, who added that he called the detective twice after the car was towed and received no response.

Delgado and a supervisor told Contact Denver7 that the investigator was on vacation and had been catching up on a backlog of calls.

Delgado also said that Webb could have reached out to other people when he did not receive a return call immediately, listing other ways people can get information if their investigator is on vacation.

Webb said he did not reach out to other people because when he called the non-emergency line, he was told the investigator would call him back if anything changed and to call only the investigator.

"Who covers people on vacation? At my work, somebody is covering me. And I am not investigating crimes," Webb said. "I feel that my wife and I have been victim, shamed in a sense, because it was our fault that our old car got stolen. It was our fault that I didn't answer my phone at 3 in the morning or answer the door. It's my fault that I'm not calling every single day. And it's my fault that I didn't assume somebody was on vacation because he didn't call me back."

The reality, Webb said, is far more concerning. He filed an internal affairs complaint about the communication breakdown and said it went no where.

Now, he is concerned about a threat to public safety.

"These individuals are here to serve and protect us, and we're far from that," Webb said. "We're not safe."

If your investigator does not respond immediately, Arapahoe County recommends calling the Investigations Line from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at (720) 874-4020, non-emergency dispatch at (303) 795-4711, which is open 24 hours, or the main number (720) 874-3600.

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